By Samuel Logan Brengle
David prayed, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee' (Ps. li. 10, 12, 13). He recognized that the blessing of a clean heart would give him wisdom and power and the spirit to teach sinners, and to so teach them that they would be converted. It is the same truth that Jesus expressed when He said, 'First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye' (Matt. vii. 5). The beam is inbred sin; the mote is the transgressions that result from inbred sin. The following are some of the results of a clean heart:
I. A clean heart filled with the Spirit makes a soul-winner out of the man who receives the blessing. It was so on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples, having their hearts purified by fire and filled with the Holy Spirit, won three thousand souls to the Lord in one meeting. With the blessing of a clean heart comes a passion of love for Jesus, and with it a passionate desire for the salvation and sanctification of men. It makes apostles, prophets, martyrs, missionaries, and fiery-hearted soul-winners. It opens wide and clear the channel of communion between God and the soul, so that His power, the power of the Holy Ghost, works through him who has a clean heart, surely convicting and graciously converting and sanctifying souls.
II. The blessing results in a constancy of spirit. The soul finds its perfect balance in God. Fickleness of feeling, uncertainty of temper, and waywardness of desire are gone, and the soul is buoyed up by steadiness and certainty. It no longer has to be braced up by vows and pledges and resolutions, but moves forward naturally, with quietness and assurance.
III. There is perfect peace. The warring element within is cast out, the fear of backsliding is gone, self no longer struggles for supremacy, for Jesus has become all and in all, and that word in Isaiah is fulfilled, 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee' (Isa. xxvi. 3), and the soul is made possessor of 'the peace of God, which passeth all understanding' (Phil. iv. 7)
The soul had 'peace with God' -- that is, a cessation of rebellion and strife -- when converted, but now it has the 'peace of God,' as the bay has the fullness of the sea. Anxiety about the future, and worry about the present and past go. It took perfect faith to get a clean heart, and perfect faith destroys fret and worry. They cannot abide in the same heart. Said a saint, 'I cannot trust and worry at the same time.' John Wesley said, 'I would as soon swear as fret.'
IV. Joy is perfected. There may be sorrow and heaviness on account of manifold temptations, there may be great trials and perplexities, but the joy of the Lord, which is his strength, flows and throbs through the heart of him who is sanctified like a great Gulf Stream in an unbroken current. God becomes his joy. David knew this when he said, 'Then will I go . . . unto God my exceeding joy' (Ps. xliii. 4).
Probably not all who have the blessing of a clean heart realize this full joy, but they may, if they will take time to commune with God and appropriate the promises to themselves. Jesus said, 'Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full' (John xvi. 24.) And John said, 'These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full' (I John i. 4). And again Jesus said, 'I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you' (John xvi. 22).
This joy could not be beaten out of Paul and Silas with many stripes, but bubbled up and overflowed at the midnight hour in the dark dungeon, when their feet were in the stocks and their backs were bruised and torn. It turned Madame Guyon's cell into a palace, and Bedford Jail into an ante-room of Beulah Land and Heaven, from which the saintly tinker saw the Delectable Mountains and the Citizens of the Celestial City. Glory to God! It makes a death-bed 'soft as downy pillows are.'
V. Love is made perfect. To be born of God is to have Divine love planted in the heart. 'Like begets like,' and when we are born of God we are made partakers of His nature. And 'God is love.' But this love is comparatively feeble in the new convert, and there is much remaining corruption in the heart to check and hinder, if not to destroy it; but when the heart is cleansed, all conflicting elements are destroyed and cast out, and the heart is filled with patient, humble, holy, flaming love. Love is made perfect. It flames upwards towards God, and spreads abroad toward all men. It abides in the heart, not necessarily as a constantly overflowing emotion, but always as an unfailing principle of action, which may burst into emotion at any time. It may suffer, being abused and ill-treated, but it 'is kind.' Others may be promoted and advanced beyond it, but it 'envieth not.' It may be subjected to pressure of all kinds, but it vaunteth not itself.' It is not rash. It may prosper, but it 'is not puffed up.' Love 'doth not behave itself unseemly,' or, as John Wesley said, 'is not ill-bred.'
Love 'seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil,' is not suspicious. Love 'rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.' An evangelist was abused: his enemies were professing Christians, but 'they backslid. His friends rejoiced, but he grieved. His heart was full of love, and he could not rejoice in the triumph of iniquity even over his enemies. Love 'beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.' Love 'never faileth' (I Cor. xiii. 4-8).
VI. The Bible becomes a new book. It becomes self-interpreting. God is in it speaking to the soul. I do not mean by this that all the types and prophecies are made plain to the unlearned man, but all that is necessary to salvation he finds and feeds upon in the Bible. He now understands the word of Jesus, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' (Matt. iv. 4). Like Job he can say: 'I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food ' (Job xxiii. 12) and like David, rejoices in it 'as one that findeth great spoil' (Ps. cxix. 162). Like the blessed man, he meditates therein day and night, that he may observe to do according to all that is written therein, that his profiting may appear to all.
VII. It begets the shepherd spirit, and destroys the spirit of lordship over God's heritage. Peter was not like many that have followed him, for instead of lording it over the flock, he wrote, 'The elders which are among you I exhort, who am . . . a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock' (i Pet. v.1-3). If the cleansed man is a superior, it makes him patient and considerate; if a subordinate, willing and obedient. It is the fruitful root of courtesy, of pity, of compassion and of utterly unselfish devotion. 'The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep ' (John x. II).
VIII. Temptation is quickly recognized as such, and is easily overcome through steadfast faith in Jesus. The holy man takes the shield of faith, and with it quenches all the fiery darts of the enemy.
IX. Divine courage possesses the heart. The sanctified man sings with David, 'I will not fear: what can man do unto me?', (Ps. cxviii. 6). 'Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear' (Ps. xxvii. 3). And with Paul, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me' (Phil. iv. '3)' for 'we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us' (Rom. viii. 37).
X. There is a keener sense than ever before of the weakness of the flesh, the absolute inability of man to help us, and of our own utter dependence on God for all things. The pure heart sings evermore, 'The Blood, the Blood -- is all my plea.'
XI. The cleansed man makes a covenant with his eyes, and is careful which way and how he looks. He also remembers the words of Jesus, 'Take heed therefore how ye hear' (Luke viii. i8), and again, 'Take heed what ye hear' (Mark iv. 24). Likewise he bridles his tongue and seasons his words with salt, not with sugar; salt is better than sugar for seasoning, but it is only for seasoning. He remembers: 'That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt. xii. 36). He does not despise the day of small things, and he can content himself with mean things. Finally, he realizes
That the common deeds of the common day Are ringing hells in the far-away,
and he lives as seeing Him who is invisible,' and with glad humility and whole-hearted fidelity discharges his duty with an eye single to the glory of God, without any itching desire for the honor that man can give, or other reward than the ' well done' of the Lord.